Theme of Polpurri, 2016 – Understanding War in the 21st Century

“Politics is almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once but in politics, many times.” –Winston Churchill

The Department of Political Science, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, organized Polpourri 2016 on March 10th, 2016. It is the first time the Political Science Department held an academic meet in many years and it sure made up for all those years. The academic meet was opened by Principal Suman Sharma and began with an introduction by Ms. Rina Kashyap, who used the concepts of gender and power to “understand” war, and not to “explain” it, as she pointed out.

The first event was the panel, which was moderated by Dr. Veena Ravi Kumar. The speakers included Mr. Salman Haidar, Prof. Varun Sahni, Dr. Nanvita Chadha Behera and Brig. Gurmeet Singh. Mr. Salman Haidar focused on India and its international relations in the post-independence era. He elucidated on the important distinction between non-alignment and neutrality and how Nehru abhorred the latter.  According to him, it was this non-alignment policy that gave India a status and importance that went beyond India’s economic status. Prof. Varun Sahni explored epistemology in political science, especially on the importance of collecting valid data. As for war, he asserted that war in its fundamental sense does not change, drawing the example of Afghanistan and connecting it to how in 30 years of being at war, the types of war may change but the consequences remain the same. Ms. Navnita Chadha Behera began with deconstructing the binaries of war and then moved on to art and literature. She presented the some thought provoking art works of Rashid Rana as an example. Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal spoke from a military perspective, defining ‘threat, ‘net wars’ and ‘sub conventional warfare’. He expressed concern over China’s growing military presence in the India’s neighboring countries and saw it as a potential strategic threat.The session ended with an interactive question and answer round that saw an engaged and participative audience.

The next event was the screening of the movie ‘Turtles Can Fly’, directed by BahmamGhobadi. It is a landmark film by the director who brought the Kurdish region to the international arena.The movie is based in a refugee camp on the Turkey-Iraq border where adults survive while children thrive under extreme conditions, further worsened by fear and constant threat. The portrayal of lived experiences of war has a deeper impact when they are shown through the eyes of children. These children then are able to cope with their suffering in a way more mature and calculated than the hysterical adults. The issue of war crimes and the treatment of women’s body as territory to be conquered were also its sub themes. Another important issue that comes to light is how the refugees view the American intervention in Iraq as their true refuge and are supportive of it. As the protagonist quips, “There is money in “hello” referring to the English language. This and other issues brought up by the movie were discussed by a student panel consisting  of Ghania and Sukriti, where they discussed the movie in nuanced ways, stressing on  the loss of innocence experienced by the children at the end of the movie.

The third event was the Political Science Quiz- DIALECTIC16.  Various teams from across the colleges of Universities across the country became a part of this. The quiz competition was conducted by Shruti Jargad in association with LSR Quizzing Society in two rounds.  Six teams were selected who answered the maximum questions correctly in Round 1. Round 2 witnessed audio visuals and questions related to the field of Political Science. All the participants seemed really enthusiastic. Even with tousled hair and frazzled brains, the eagerness of the crowd, especially that of the participants did not seem to dissipate. One of the major highlights of the quiz, was not just the brilliance of those who participated but rather of the cleverly twisted questions. Everyone present seemed to be completely bowled over! The winners left delighted with cash prizes.

The final event was “Jang ke Rang”, a cultural representation of war. We witnessed an enthralling musical performance by Rajasee, Shambhavi and Sneha. Tributes were made inhonour of those who endured the adversities of war.This was followed by a lecture by Mr. Jonathan Varghese, who spoke about photographs and paintings and how to understand them in the context of war. He spoke about the importance of facts but also about how they are not enough to understand art and war. Prachi Das performed Roger Hodgoson’s Logical Song, raising some hard-hitting questions  that certainly moved the audience. Bidisha Mahapatra then presented ‘No Guns at My Son’s Funeral’, which represented the turmoil of war faced by a mother. Ananta Gour concluded the event with a melodious performance of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Iqbal Bano. The event closed with a vote of thanks by Mr. Mahesh Panicker, Staff Advisor; Neha Dewan, General Secretary and Shruti Jargad, President of the Department of Political Science. The students were left behind with an insightful afterthought via the unprecedented academic meet hosted by the Department.

– Neha Dewan.

 

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